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First look at electric carriage that may replace horse buggies

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New York has never known a Central Park without that rhythmic click-clacking. But if Mayor Bill de Blasio gets his way, he'll put those hooves out to pasture, replacing them with a different noise-maker.

Actually, excluding its horn the electric carriage makes little noise at all. It runs on lithium-ion batteries, has a variable-speed a/c motor, and is relatively silent, says Jason Wenig, who built the first brass-era vehicle in more than a century for a group looking to ban horse-drawn carriages in New York City. He designed it to fit the aesthetic of Central Park.

"It was very important for me to build something that just dripped that much history," he says.

Don't talk to Stephen Malone or Tyson about history.

"He's my partner," Malone says of his horse Tyson.

Man domesticated the first horse more than 6,000 years ago. Since 1858, they've click-clacked through central park. And for 50 years, Malone's family has owned and operated carriages there.

"Frederick Law Olmstead designed this park to be seen from a carriage," he says.

De Blasio is reimagining that view from the backseat of an electric buggy.

The Central Park Conservancy, the nonprofit that manages the park, agrees that the horse carriages are special.

Even Wenig, with all the profits he stands to make mass-producing this $150,000 prototype, acknowledges the role horses like Tyson play in the history of this city.

"I don't have any stake in the politics," he says. "I'm a native New Yorker. I understand the debate that's going on."

Malone worries that if the mayor holds the horses in some far-off pasture -- putting nothing before their carts, just motors inside them -- and that soothing sound of hooves on pavement fades away forever, it "just makes it like everywhere else."

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